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Archive for Mother’s Day

TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

Still looking for a Halloween activity?

How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.

When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.

    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)


    RECIPE: Sparkling Pear Cocktail

    La Poire Sparkling Cocktail

    America's Favorite Pear

    [1] La Poire sparkling cocktail (photo courtesy Grey Goose). [2] America’s favorite pear, the Bartlett (photo courtesy CookThink). There are also red Bartlett and d’Anjou are available in green and red varieties.


    This week we had a bottle of Angry Orchard’s Knotty Pear Cider at lunch, and it reminded us that fall is also a time for all things pear.

    For a celebration, toast or other special occasion—or weekend chillaxing—this cocktail from Grey Goose is a star. Easy to make, it combines pear and citrus with sweet Moscato. You can use other slightly sweet sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante.

    If it isn’t a special occasion, don’t go out of your way to find the perfect garnish. Or a Champagne flute.


    Ingredients For 6 Drinks

  • 6 parts Grey Goose La Poire
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small pear, ideally Anjou or Bartlett*, red or green
  • 1 bottle sparkling Moscato or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Garnish options: baby orchid, crystallized ginger, sliced star fruit

    1. PEEL and core the pear and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

    2. PLACE the lemon juice, sugar, pear and Grey Goose La Poire in a bowl. Stir well to combine until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    2. DIVIDE the pear mixture into six Champagne flutes or wine glasses. Fill each chilled glass with Moscato.

    3. GARNISH and serve.
    *A juicier pear variety will accentuate the pear flavors. Here are the different types of pears.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Tea Party Ideas, Part 2

    Tea Sandwiches

    Modern Tea

    Tea Party Crostini

    [1] Tea can be classically staged, like this one from Tea Time Magazine, or [2] modern service, like this at the Langham Palace | New York. Instead of classic British tea sandwiches on crustless bread, you can substitute tartines—French open-face sandwiches—or Italian crostini. Here’s a close-up from Honestly Yum.


    Yesterday we tendered the idea of a monthly tea party. That list covered January through July. Today: the rest of the year.

  • Iced Tea Party. What could be more refreshing in the dog days of summer than a iced tea with strawberry shortcake scones topped with vanilla ice cream? Offer guests the choice of black, green and herbal iced teas, with lemon and lime slices.
  • Iced Tea & Sorbet Sundae Bar. Cut up the many luscious fruits in season and create a fruit salad bar. Sorbet is half the calories of ice cream and frozen yogurt.

  • Teen Tea Party. Take your teenager (or someone else’s) out for a tea experience and ask him or her to bring a friend. Share your love of tea and some good conversation as you give them a glimpse of the past and a custom enjoyed by everyone from kings to common folk.
  • Book Exchange & Tea Party. Ask everyone to bring a favorite book that they’ve read and are ready to trade. Each person gives a two-minute presentation about why they loved the book. Names are drawn from a hat and each participant selects his/her new book in the order the names were drawn.

  • Tea O’ween. Celebrate Halloween for the whole month of October with cinnamon spice tea, pumpkin scones and midnight chocolate double layer cake. Try Constant Comment, the original American spiced tea recipe invented by Ruth Bigelow (available in supermarkets and from Decorate your midnight chocolate cake with candy corn or other favorite Halloween candy; or serve midnight chocolate cupcakes and provide different Halloween candies so guests can decorate their own.
  • Harvest Tea. Serve fall harvest foods for tea: pumpkin muffins, apple pie, nut tarts, cookies or nutted cream cheese sandwiches on zucchini bread.
    Bonus: Provide oranges, pomanders and optional ribbon, and let guests make their own party favors: pomanders!

  • Pumpkin Tea. Start Thanksgiving early with a “Pumpkin Tea” consisting of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin scones. Have a some cranberry scones or muffins for those who don’t like pumpkin. Serve your favorite black tea, or try the Pumpkin Spice Tea from Bigelow Tea, Zhena Gypsy Tea (organic, Fair Trade and KSA kosher) or (rooibos).
  • Thankful To A Tea. No matter how busy we are, we all can lend a hand, and we all could use one. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, host a “Wish List Tea.” All the participants submit in advance one reasonable request they hope someone else in the group can fulfill. It can be a night of babysitting, a bicycle, the loan or donation of a black cocktail dress or size 9 red pumps, someone to explain home equity loans, etc.

  • Tea & A Christmas Tree. ‘Tis the season to enjoy cinnamon spice tea with your favorite holiday goodies. Invite friends over to enjoy your tree, or decorate with a couple of non-denominational poinsettia plants. ‘Tis also the season to call people you haven’t been in touch with in a while, and mix new friends with old.
  • Chari-Tea. Help your favorite local cause. Ask friends to bring something to donate—“like new” clothes that they no longer wear, some canned goods, toys and books for the hospital waiting room—whatever your cause can use (call them and ask).
  • Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party took place on December 16, 1773. This and a second “tea party” on March 7, 1774 were a prelude to the Revolutionary War. In honor of American Independence Day, you can hold a commemorative “Boston Tea Party” with the kind actually destroyed on that day. It was Britain’s oldest tea merchant, Davison, Newman & Co., whose tea chests were dumped at the first event. Still in business, the company sells Boston Harbour Tea (certified kosher), a blend of Ceylon and Darjeeling teas. Or, simply dump loose leaf tea “overboard” into a tea pot as you read the story of the Boston Tea Party. Serve colonial cookie favorites: benne cakes (sesame cookies), coconut macaroons, gingersnaps, jumbles, molasses cookies and sugar cookies.


    Perhaps the most fun of planning a tea party is deciding on the goodies. Just search online for “tea party recipes” and you’ll find enough for a lifetime of teas. The basic categories:

  • Cake. Here’s your opportunity to serve special things that most people don’t have often enough. They can be simple, from sponge cake to layer cake to bite-size madeleines and individual cheesecakes. Should you serve your “Death By Chocolate” cake or rich chocolate brownies? It’s a personal choice. We prefer to keep tea on the light-to-medium side, since, after all, dinner is in a few hours.
  • Tarts or tartlets. Fruit tarts and lemon tarts rule! You can make them quickly with tart shells and fruit curd. Tortes Almond, chocolate and linzer tortes are popular and less rich than layer cakes.
  • Cookies. Tea is a wonderful reason to get out your favorite cookie recipes: butter cookies, gingerbread or gingersnaps, linzer cookies, shortbread—the sky’s the limit.
  • Scones.
  • With curd or jam and clotted cream, they’re a classic favorite. It’s easy to bake your own moist scones with gourmet mixes from King Arthur Flour or other quality producer. They also sell gluten-free mixes.

  • Tea Sandwiches. These can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In the top photo, the sandwiches are simply ham and radishes, with spreads. The key to tea sandwiches is smaller size and fanciful cuts. Triangles and finger sandwiches are easiest, but get out your cookie cutters and go to town.
    Healthier Tea Party Foods

  • Lower-Sugar, Unfrosted Cakes. Angel cake, Bundt cake, carrot cake, sponge cake and zucchini bread, among others, have fewer calories than frosted cakes. They also can be with a heart-healthy oil instead of butter. butter—and no frosting. You can serve them with fruit purée (sweeten with a dab of agave) and/or Reddi-Wip, which has so much air that it has just 15 calories.
  • Pavlovas. These meringue cups (egg whites and sugar only, lots of air, no fat) filled with fresh fruit or brandies fruit. If it’s winter and the fruit selection isn’t great, citrus salad with mint is delicious!
  • “Slender” Tea Sandwiches. On Whole Grain Bread Slice bread ultra-thin and serve with healthy spreads: hummus, tuna and olive tapenade, turkey with marinated cucumbers and curried yogurt spread instead of mayonnaise.

    Sandwich Cake

    Sandwich Cake Slice

    [4] This beautiful sandwich cake yields a wedge [5] of savory sandwich. Here’s how to make it from

  • Fruit With Diet Yogurt Dip. Cut up fruit and serve with a dip made of fat-free yogurt, no-cal sweetener and cinnamon. If you don’t want to use a noncaloric sweetener, use agave syrup. The glycemic index is 21 compared to sugar (65) honey (56) and maple syrup (58). Baked Apples Bake apples with a bit of agave syrup—it’s very sweet, so a little goes a long way. Cinnamon and nutmeg provide wonderful seasoning.
  • Crudités. Low-calorie and fiber packed, serve a platter of raw or blanched vegetables with a yogurt-herb dip.

    Etiquette expert Arden Clise erases common ideas of “proper” tea behavior. She says:

    “People often think proper tea drinking means sticking your pinky out. That’s actually rude and connotes elitism. It comes from the fact that cultured people would eat their tea goodies with three fingers and commoners would hold the treats with all five fingers. Thus was born the misguided belief that one should raise their pinky finger to show they were cultured. Tuck that pinky finger in.”

    Find more of her comments at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Doughnuts For Father’s Day

    National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June, but there’s an even better reason to make doughnuts on the third Sunday: Father’s Day.

    If Dad loves doughnuts, get up an hour earlier and bake a batch for his breakfast.

    Yes, bake them—no frying required with these cake-like doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    To bake doughnuts you’ll need a doughnut pan to hold their shape. If you don’t want to invest in one (they’re $16.95 at King Arthur Flour), see if you can borrow one.

    You can serve them plain, with a sugar coating or with a chocolate glaze.

    What could be better? We added crisp, chopped bacon to top the doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.


    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 15 minutes; icing time is 5 minutes, then a few minutes to let the icing set.

    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (substitute instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter (substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
    For The Optional Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
    For The Optional Chocolate Icing

  • 1 cup good chocolate bar*, chopped (substitute chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half

    Chocolate Fudge Doughnut

    Bacon Doughnuts

    Apple Cider Donuts

    Top: It’s easy to bake doughnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). Center: We added chopped bacon as a garnish (photo courtesy d’Artagnan | Facebook). Bottom: Don’t want chocolate? These apple cider doughnuts pre-date chocolate in history (photo Karo Syrup).

  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon, chopped nuts, dragées, pretzel pieces, sprinkles, etc.

  • Doughnut pans
    *If your palate knows great chocolate, a good bar (Chocolate, Dove, Green & Black’s, Godiva, Guittard, Lindt, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, etc.) is better than chips—unless you use Guittard chocolate chips, our favorite.


    Lemon Glazed Donut

    Pretzel Donuts

    Top: For a lemon glaze, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and grated peel to the icing (photo courtesy Bottom: Another sweet-and-salty doughnut, topped with pretzels (photo courtesy



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, just bake the batter in two batches.

    2. WHISK together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    3. WHISK together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl. You may notice some curdling of the milk, which is normal.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There’s no need to beat the batter; just make sure everything is well-combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.

    5. BAKE the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the doughnuts from the oven; after 30 seconds, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

    5a. For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.

    6. COOL the doughnuts completely before icing. Combine the chocolate chips and milk or half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat until the half-and-alf is steaming and starting to bubble. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the icing is smooth.

    7. DIP the top of each doughnut in the icing; or spread icing over the top. Garnish as desired.

    Although dough was fried in oil as far back as ancient Rome, food historians generally credit the invention of deep-fried yeast doughnuts to Northern Europeans in Medieval times. The word “doughnut” refers to the small, round, nutlike shape of the original doughnuts—the hole came later. “Donut” is an American phonetic rendering from the 20th century.


    Doughnuts were introduced to America in the 17th century by Dutch immigrants, who called them oliekoecken, oil cakes (i.e., fried cakes). In the New World, the doughnut makers replaced their frying oil with lard, which was plentiful and produced a tender and greaseless crust.

    Other immigrants brought their own doughnut variations: The Pennsylvania Dutch and the Moravians brought fastnachts to Lancaster, Pennsylavnia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively; the French brought beignets to New Orleans.

    The word “dough-nut” first appeared in English in the 17th century. The word evolved from dough-nut to doughnut to donut. The airy, yeast-leavened dough-nuts (like Krispy today’s Kremes), were joined by cake doughnuts, leavened with baking powder or baking soda (like Dunkin Donuts).

    By 1845, recipes for “dough-nuts” appeared in American cookbooks. Chemical leavening (baking powder) was substituted for yeast to produce a more cakelike, less breadlike texture; and inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes came onto the market.

    Why a hole? For efficiency, the cooked doughnuts were staked on wooden rods.
    The Dawn Of National Doughnut Day

    Spell it doughnut or donut, the holiday was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army, to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen in World War I (at that time, it was called the Great War).



    RECIPE: Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

    Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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    Audra’s magnificent naked cake: chocolate and peanut butter. We’re about to eat the computer screen. Photo courtesy


    Oh, how we love you Audra, The Baker Chick. Your emails with such beautiful photos of your recipes make the day better. Even if we don’t have time to make them, just looking at them is sheer satisfaction.

    In time for Father’s Day, Audra created one of our favorite cakes*: a rich chocolate naked layer cake with peanut butter filling and a brush of frosting. Thank you, thank you!

    A naked cake is related to a stack cake. Both are layer cakes, and are so newly trendy that the terms are used interchangeably. A stack cake has zero outside frosting; a naked cake can have a light swath of frosting on the outside with some naked cake showing through, like this one.

    And now…to the kitchen!


    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings
    For The Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4½ tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    For The Frosting

  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
    For The Ganache

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: mini peanut butter cups, halved

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two cake pans, lining with a circle of parchment paper. You can use 6-, 8- or 9- inch pans; of using 6-inch pans, make at least 3 layers.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs, continue to stir until batter is smooth.

    3. DIVIDE the batter among the pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

    4. MAKE the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer on the stove top and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before using (you can pop it into the fridge or freezer).

    5. MAKE the frosting: Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Fold in the whipped cream until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Using a serrated knife, level each cake layer, slicing off the “dome” to make the layers even. Place the bottom later on a piece of parchment paper, on a cake turntable (you can use a pedestal cake stand, but invest in an inexpensive turntable). Spread a layer of ganache over the first layer of cake, sticking it into the fridge or freezer as needed between each frosting layer, to firm it up.

    7. CONTINUE with a layer of frosting, then another layer of cake, more ganache, more frosting etc. Add some frosting to the outside of the cake, smoothing with a spatula. Top with chopped peanut butter cups.

    *She adapted the base cake recipe from a Martha Stewart cake.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Pancakes & Maple Syrup Substitutes

    Some people like to serve pancakes with a garnish of berries. But at The Mission restaurant in San Diego, a creative cook embedded the fruit in the pancake itself.

    You can do it easily:

  • SLICE fresh berries in 1/4-inch pieces.
  • SPOON the pancake batter onto the griddle or pan.
  • ADD the sliced fruit while the batter sets. If you work quickly, you can add them in a circle; but random scatters are just as tasty.
    No berries? Use dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc) or dice any other fruit you have on hand (apples, bananas, pears, etc.).

    While the The Mission serves the pancakes with conventional maple syrup, consider these…

  • Apple butter, bourbon butter, maple butter, strawberry butter or other compound butter
  • Fruit yogurt (you can mix jam or preserves into plain yogurt)
  • Honey
  • Jam, marmalade, preserves
  • Other syrup (berry syrup, brown rice syrup, cinnamon syrup [recipe below], molasses)
  • More fresh fruit
  • Plain yogurt, sour cream or mascarpone
  • Whipped cream or heavy cream
    For plain pancakes consider:

  • Applesauce or other puréed fruit
  • Dessert sauce (caramel, chocolate)
  • Fruit compote or sautéed fruit
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter
    You can also mix up a creative syrup; for example, honey with raisins, diced apples and/or chopped nuts.

    This is delicious on French toast, pancakes and waffles; along with fruit salad, ice cream, un-iced cakes, etc.


  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of lemon juice


    Pancakes Embedded Fruit

    Sautéed Apple Pancakes

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

    Fun with fruit, in and on your pancakes. Top: Embedded berries (photo courtesy The Mission restaurant | San Diego). Center: “Apple Pie Pancakes,” topped with sautéed apples (photo courtesy Bottom: Topped with peanut butter and jelly or preserves (photo courtesy Krusteaz).

    1. HEAT the water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

    2. ADD the cinnamon and lemon juice, stir thoroughly, and let cool or serve warm.



    RECIPE: Savory Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Top: Savory chocolate gazpacho from Chef Mat Schuster. Bottom: Savory chocolate gazpacho with strawberries from Here’s the recipe.


    Chef Mat Schuster of San Francisco’s Canela Bistro & Wine Bar offered us this Chocolate Gazpacho recipe, which we like for Valentine’s Day. It’s a savory chocolate counterpoint to all the sweet stuff.

    When most people think of savory chocolate dishes, Mexican mole comes to mind. You may have made a chili recipe with cocoa powder. It’s a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes.

    (And why not? Cacao cultivation was begun by the Olmecs, the first major civilization in Mexico, located in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco; and furthered by the Mayas of the Yucatán Peninsula. When the Aztecs learned about cacao from the Mayas, they made it a drink for noble or wealthy Aztecs and their warrior heroes).

    If you’ve ever had an all-chocolate dinner (chocolate used in every dish), you know that it can be included in every course, from cacao nibs in the salad to cacao chèvre for the cheese course. Here are more examples, with the recipes available at

  • Asado de Bodas, pork in red chile sauce with Mexican chocolate
  • Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada* Sauce
  • Chocolate Barbecue Sauce
  • Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
  • Enchiladas in Chile Chocolate Sauce, with Mexican chocolate
  • Gascon-Style Beef Stew (Daube de Boeuf À la Gasconne), made with
    Armagnac, chocolate and Madiera wine
  • Triple Chocolate Beef & Bean Chili
  • Turkey in Mole Poblano
  • White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj


  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup seedless or low-seed cucumber (Armenian, English,
    Persian, etc.), diced
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup to 1 cup cold water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Garnishes: shaved chocolate (70% cacao to 100% cacao)
  • and/or croutons†


    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth.

    2. ADD enough water to make the consistency you prefer, but be sure not to dilute the flavor.

    3. TASTE, season with salt and pepper and chill the soup. Before serving, garnish as desired.

    Take a look at our Chocolate Glossary and other articles in THE NIBBLE’S Chocolate Section.

    *Picada is a Catalan-style pesto made with almonds, parsley and chocolate.

    †These can be American-style croutons—small squares—or French croutons/Italian crostini, slices of baguette or similar bread, grilled or toasted with olive oil, seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper) and/or optional toppings (for this gazpacho recipe, try fresh goat cheese and chives). You can float it on top of the soup or serve it on the plate under the bowl.



    RECIPE: Rose Pear Galette & The Different Types Of Pears


    Given the mark-up on roses for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you might want to bake your own roses. These lovely individual tarts are made from seasonal pears. (See the different types of pears, below.)

    If you prefer an apple rose tartlet or a vegetable rose tart, take a look at these rose pastry recipes.


    Treat yourself with this elegant and refined after-dinner delight from Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. It’s included in her book The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 to 25 minutes.
    Ingredients For 4 Individual Tarts

    For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4-8 tablespoons very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado* sugar
  • Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
  • Reynolds parchment paper
    For The Filling

  • 2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
    For Serving

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
    *Turbinado sugar is partially refined light brown cane sugar, similar to demerara sugar but with larger crystals. It is sold in bulk packages, and in packets as Sugar In The Raw. See the different types of sugar.

    1. MIX together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.

    2. ADD 4 tablespoons of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (generally about 3 additional tablespoons). Flour a work surface and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times until it comes together. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.

    3. MIX this filling together just before the dough is ready to be removed from the fridge: In a medium bowl, toss together the pear slices, brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, vanilla extract and salt.

    4. REMOVE the disk of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough into a 16-inch round, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking. Using the bottom of a bowl or plate that measures about 6 inches in diameter, cut out 3 circles. Re-roll the scraps to get 1 additional circle.


    Pear Galette - Reynolds Kitchens

    The Year Of Cozy

    America's Favorite Pear

    Red d'Anjou Pears

    [1] Rose Pear Galette from A Cozy Kitchen | Reynolds Kitchens. [2] The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures. [3] The Bartlett pear, perhaps America’s most familiar variety (photo courtesy [4] The Red d’Anjou pear (photo courtesy Good Eggs). Both Bartlett and d’Anjou can be found in green and red varieties.


    5. ARRANGE the pear slices neatly in a circular pattern in the center of each of the pie crust rounds, leaving about 1-1/2 inches clear at the edges. Fold over the edges to cover about 1/2 inch of the filling. Repeat with the remaining rounds. Transfer the galettes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    6. BRUSH the pie crust edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Check on the galettes periodically. If at any time the crusts’ edges are getting too brown, take a piece of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and tent over the edges. When the edges are golden brown, remove from the oven. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/bosc pear 230

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    Some of America’s most popular pears. From top to bottom: Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Green Anjou, Seckel (photos courtesy USA Pears).



    Thanks to USA Pears for this background material.

    Fresh domestic pears are available year-round. Although each pear variety has its own unique properties, most can be substituted for each other in recipes.

    Bartlett Pears: August to February
    The Bartlett pear turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Very juicy and sweet, with aromatic flesh, it is used most for canning and for salads or desserts (photo above).

    Red Bartlett Pears: August to January
    The Red Bartlett turns bright red as it ripens and is similar in flavor and texture to the yellow Bartlett.

    Bosc Pears: September to April
    Bosc pears have long, tapered necks and skin that is naturally russet to a cinnamon brown. Dense, fragrant, and honey-sweet flesh with a texture that holds its shape when heated, the Bosc is a good choice for baking, poaching, grilling and roasting.

    Comice Pears: September to March
    Pronounced co-MEESE, these pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are usually green, sometimes with a red blush. They are very succulent, with a custard-like texture and mellow sweetness. They are best as an eating pear and go well with cheese. They don’t hold up well in cooking.

    Concorde Pears: September to February
    The Concorde has a tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh, with skin that is golden green, usually with golden yellow russets. Its flavor has vanilla undertones and, like the Bosc, it has a firm texture that holds up well when baking, grilling or poaching. It is one of the newer varieties, introduced in the past 10 years.

    D’Anjou Pears: September to July
    Green D’Anjou pears, recognized by their egg-like shape, stay green when fully ripe. With moist, sweet and dense flesh, the D’Anjou is excellent for snacking or baking.

    Red D’Anjou Pears: September to May
    Sweet and succulent when ripe, red D’Anjou pears are similar to their green counterparts. The red skin is a colorful addition to salads, desserts and main dishes.

    Forelle Pears: October to March
    The Forelle, known for its smaller size and unique yellow-green skin, is tasty sweet with a crisp texture even when ripe. Ideal for kids’ lunches and baked desserts.

    Seckel Pears: September to February
    Seckel pears are another small variety, recognized by their maroon skin, with olive-green coloring. With their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are great for snacks, pickling or garnishing.

    Starkrimson Pears: August to January
    Another new variety introduced within the past 10 years, Starkrimson pears have a brilliant crimson red skin and a thick, stocky stem. Juicy and sweet, they have smooth flesh and a distinct floral aroma.

  • Pears Hélène
  • Poached Pears



    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Pancakes

    Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, a day of the week when many of us have some extra time to make pancakes.

    What pancakes do you make for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate pancakes, of course! They can be the focus of breakfast or brunch, or served as dessert in smaller portions.

    Two recipes follow: All-Chocolate Pancakes and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes, which are regular pancakes packed with chocolate chunks.

    You can make either recipe with all-purpose flour, or use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour for more nutrition and an added flavor element. But first:

    Not into chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes.

    People have been eating pancake-like foods for a very long time. According to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, the first mention of anything other than bread baked on a griddle is the oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (“On Cookery) by Apicius*.

    The book describes “cakes” made from a batter of eggs, milk, water and flour. They were fried and served with honey and pepper.

    Here’s more on the history of pancakes.


    This recipe was developed by Foodie Crush for

    Ingredients For 8-10 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Additional butter, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving

    1. WHISK the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together until combined.

    2. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Set the mixture aside to rest for 10 minutes.


    Chocolate Pancakes

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Red Velvet Pancakes

    Top: Chocolate pancakes by Foodie Crush for Center: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes made with a heart pancake mold, from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Don’t like chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes from Taste Of Home.

    3. PREHEAT a nonstick griddle to 325°F and cook the pancakes in batches. Keep them warm by placing a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet in a 250°F oven, until ready to serve.


    Ice Cream Pancakes

    Nutella Pancakes

    Dessert pancakes. Top: With ice cream or
    whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Photo
    by Robyn Mackenzie | Fotolia. Bottom: Add
    some Nutella. Photo by Dusan Zidar |



    The Baker Chick used heart-shape pancake molds for a special presentation.

    You can also use the molds to fry eggs, shape burgers, etc.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (more if you like)
  • Optional: pats of butter

    1. PREHEAT a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oil, egg and buttermilk, and whisk together until thoroughly combined, adding a splash more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

    3. SPRAY or butter the skillet and pour in the batter. When bubbles form and pop in the batter, carefully flip each pancake, cooking until golden and baked through.

    4. MAKE the syrup: Mash the raspberries with a fork and blend with the syrup. Warm it to your liking.

    5. TOP the pancakes with butter and syrup and serve.


  • Have leftover pancakes? Reheat them by toasting them in a toaster oven. The outsides get nice and crispy. In our book, they’re even better than the original batch.
  • Pancake varieties: Check out the different types of pancakes.
  • Syrup: There are 14 different types of syrup—not flavors, but types. See them in our Glossary of Sugars, Syrups & Other Sweeteners.
  • Pancake mixes: Here are our favorite multigrain and whole grain pancake mixes.
    *“Apicius” is believed to be the pseudonym of one or several writers who authored the book. The manuscript of some 400 recipes is believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. Why the name Apicius? It had long been associated with gourmet preferences, named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a wealthy Roman merchant and epicure who lived in the 1st century C.E. He is said to have once sailed all the way to Libya to eat some much-praised prawns, only to return home without having found any to his satisfaction. He hosted colossal banquets, which eventually drove him to bankruptcy…and suicide.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cocktails Or Mocktails

    Some people think a Valentine’s Day cocktail should be rose red. Others think it should be chocolate. Still others want to drink pink.

    Here, we offer chocolate, coffee, red and pink Valentine cocktails for your consideration. If you’re having a party, choose several.

    Mocktail options follow.


  • Amore Espresso Cocktail Recipe
  • Bright Red Cocktail Recipes (including the Lovecicle)
  • Chocolate Basil Martini Recipe
  • Five Chocolate Cocktail Recipes (including the Hot Lips Chocolatini)
  • Love Nectar Recipe (red, with tequila, cider, red grapes)
  • Love Potion Recipe (bright red)
  • Passionfruit Tequila “Besame” (Kiss Me) Recipe (bright red)
  • Pink Cocktail Recipes (including Cupid’s Cosmo)
  • Pomegranate Martini Recipe (deep pink with red arils)
  • Pomegranate Refresher Recipe (pale pink with red arils)
  • The Right Kiss Gin Cocktail Recipe (deep red)
  • Rose Cocktail Recipes (pink, with rose simple syrup)
  • Secret Crush Champagne Cocktail Recipe (red)

    Valentine Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush “Champagne” cocktail made with Prosecco and grenadine. Photo courtesy Macao Trading Co.



    To make a Valentine-red mocktail, you need to use either a red base (blood orange juice, cranberry juice, cherry or raspberry soda) or a red-colored flavor such as grenadine or strawberry purée)—or both.

    Blend the juice and soda in proportions you prefer. If it isn’t red enough, add one of the red-colored flavors. Taste, add some citrus juice to pick up the flavor, and select a garnish.


    Valentine Cocktail

    The Pomegranate Refresher can be made
    with tequila, or as a mocktail with regular or
    diet 7-UP or Sprite.



  • Blood orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pink lemonade
    Soda Pop

  • Cherry Soda
  • Club Soda
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Raspberry Soda
    Red-Colored Flavors

  • Grenadine
  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Strawberry or raspberry purée
    Flavor Accent

  • Bitters
  • Citrus juice: grapefruit lemon, lime

  • Fruit: blood orange wheel, notched strawberry, pomegranate arils, raspberry pick
  • Herbs: fresh mint, opal (purple) basil

  • Ice
  • Optional: red straws


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